Hello from Vietnam! We flew out of Laos on Friday in a nice little propeller plane (we now know how you felt Martina flying to Doncaster). The plane might have had propellers but it was a better service than easyjet with free food and drink! When we arrived at Ha Noi we got a taxi to our hotel and were dropped 'just down the road'. After asking 3 more people the way to our hotel we arrived to find a gorgeous 3 star hotel. For those nosey people reading this with not much to do (mum) it was called Hong NGoc (www.hongngochotel.com). When we arrived the lady behind the counter checked us in but looked very confused that we were staying in a double room. She checked with us that it was fine and we had no problem. The porter (yes we even had a porter, best not get used to this treatment though as I can't imagine it will be the same when staying in the 10 bed dorm in Sydney) took our bags (poor bloke) and asked what room we were in, 503. Are you sure? Its a double? Apparently its not normal for 2 girls to stay in a double bed over here! We told him we were just friends but god knows what he thought. We were going to go and explore Ha Noi in the few hours that we had there but it was raining so so fast it wasn't possible. Altho it may have been a good thing as it is an amazing place to go shopping which has two problems, first affording it on our tight budget and second carrying it with us for the rest of our trip! Instead we just went a couple of shops down to get some food then went back to our room. Again, when asking for the key the man looked very confused and asked us if we had the number right as it was a double room!
In the morning we had a trip to Halong Bay then a boat ride out to CatBa Island where we were to spend 3 nights. When we first got on the bus to Halong Bay the man in charge was wanting to see our tickets 'excuse me Hannah' is what he was trying to say but Louise picked up on the fact that it actually sounds like 'kiss me Hannah' the way that they say it. There was a little bit of hassle with of tickets and he kept shouting 'kiss me Hannah' up to the back of the bus. It was very difficult to answer him with a straight face as I could hear Louise giggling in my ear everytime. It was also quite funny when passing ours bits of paper and tickets up to him that the helpful woman in the middle of the bus, who was passing things along to save me from standing up, decided to have a look for heldelf what we were doing and started flicking through all our papers before passing them to the guide, nosey cow!
We arrived at Halong Bay and boarded our boat, it was a lovely journey through the limestone karsts and islands that were all various shapes and sizes. We stopped off at a floating fish market, where we saw a fish smashed to death!! Not the highlight of the trip and we both let out a little yelp and turned away as he did it, probably getting more attention ourselves than the poor dying fish. When we got back onto the boat a seafood lunch (that was for you Chris, I initially put dinner but didn't want to confuse you and your southern ways). We were sat with a family of 3 who couldn't really speak English but they tried to be helpful and offer us things to eat. We were brave is all I can say. First we tried the baby octopus and squid. Never eating it again!! Then Louise tried something that was in a shell and I tried something that looked like chunks of dog food. Never eating it again!! We did manage to eat some boiled rice, spring rolls and 'veg' (long green stringy stuff) but that was about it.
After lunch we got on a motorboat to go through some of the islands, at this point we started talking to some women from Vietnam, or rather they started laughing at us and taking photos. One woman, on the trip alone, was a bit of a poser and seemed a bit dippy thought it was hillarious that we had waterproofs (obviously not very fashionable here either). However we had the last laugh. When going through a hole in one of the islands to the other side it was very wet and dripping, we had our waterpoofs to hide under, they didn't haha. Although we think they may have taken photos of us hiding under Lou's mac. One woman spoke very good English and became our Halong Bay mum for the journey questionning us about life at home. She didn't understand what sport was though so it was difficult to explain what I studied at uni.
We also stopped off to see 2 caves, which to be honest weren't that impressive. Just very hot and had far too many steps. We all got back on the boat, although thats what we thought. Me and Louise sat on top deck waiting to go then saw everyone else getting on to another boat and start waving to us. We suddenly panicked that we were on the wrong one but it was then sussed out that the others weren't going to stay on the Island. We thought we were on our own but thew 4 women were still with us. When we arrived at CatBa Island we had another meal together, a predominantly seafood meal! The hightlight was when Louise went to tip soy sauce on her rice and the whole table shouted at her and looked very concerned. They were shouting 'salty' and saying you shouldn't do it. I don't think they understand that we like flavour to our rice. When I had finished the dippy poser next to me said I hadn't eaten much so trying not to sound too rude I said I wasn't hungary, it must be the heat and they all laughed at me. I should have just told them the food was nasty! Luckily we weren't to see them, or eat with them, again. We went for a little wonder down to the pier after this then back to hotel where we discovered the disney channel. We watched the end of High School Musical 3 and an episode of Mr. Bean before falling asleep.
Waking up the next day all we saw was grey skies and rain. We thought we would wait to see if the weather got any better so to pass some time by put the disney channel back on. We watched High School Musical 3 from the start this time! We once again went for a little wander but the weather was terrible so went back to the hotel and fell asleep watching Bad Boys (in the afternnon) and then He's Just Not That Into You in the evening.
Amazing, the next day the sun was out!! We headed straight to the beach for a couple of hours, the sea was amazingly warm and the views were pretty awesome. In the afternoon we went to Monkey Island. Here all I could think about was Auntie Jane's comment us being like Jane from Tarzan. I really felt like it! We climbed up some dodgey looking rocks, clambered through trees, left Louise in the middle while I carried determidly on, climbed down some rocks to go back up and I really don't know why! I saw no monkies and the view was just as good on the ground. After making our way back down (which was scarier than going up) we walked along the beach to see the monkeys playing next to the beach. Little bit annoying. After watching a little more Mr. Bean we fell asleep for our last night on the island.
The next day when going back to land we were talking to one of the guides and he said that tourists never spend 3 nights on the island!! Well we do like to be different, explains why there was not much to do though.
When we arrived arrived on the mainland about 11 o clock we were served another lunch! All we ate were some chips. We had only eaten 2 hours before we didn't want food. The 3 hour drive back to Ha Noi was again very bumpy. Our seat cushions were not attched to the seat though so everytime we went over a bump the cushioned jumped out of place and we went with it. It doesn't make sense though because the raods look so much smoother than at Laos.
We're now in Hoi An and after moaning about the rain we're now moaning about the heat, typical Brits. Its about 32 degrees today. I'll tell you about the trip here later xxxx